Sunday, May 15, 2022

If You Want Your Children to be Happy Teenagers, Stuff Them Full of Sugary Drinks as Babies


Talk about horror!

I Can Think of a Few Minds I'd like to Mess With. A review of The Last Dreamwalker

 Layla can't be the last dreamwalker because that's a skill I could use. There are a few people I'd like to give a piece of my mind to in their dreams. I wonder if Layla is interested in giving lessons. 

The third daughters in this family have the unique ability to enter other folks' dreams and interact with them. Layla's mother tried to deny the skill, Layla's cousin uses it to terrify people. Layla herself didn't know she had the ability until two barely known aunts come into her life. Chaos ensues!  Crazy cousin Charlotte doesn't want to share her island with anybody, so she wreaks havoc in dreamland near and far. Don't you hate it when you can't get any sleep because you know your dreams will be nightmares? Pretty much everybody in the story gets touched by crazy cousin Charlotte's dreamwalking.  Can't she give anyone a break?

Of course, she can't because this is horror! And there is nothing more horrifying than horrifying dreams, especially if the dreams can be deadly.

I'd change only two things. The storm coming up the Atlantic could be a lot more frightening. The other is my oft-mentioned pet peeve, eyeball rolling. Every character manages to roll their eyes at some point. Layla's eyeballs almost roll away with so much eyerolling. My eyeball-roll-o-meter went off the charts. 

Love that cover. Not only do I want to be a dreamwalker, I want my hair to swing around like that!

Thanks to Forge and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review an eARC of The Last Dreamwalker.

Review of Howls from the Dark Ages. This ain't Camelot.


Eyeballs on the branches!

This anthology sent me down all kinds of Medieval rabbit holes. Most books don't make me trot off to do research, but Howls from the Dark Ages had me looking up everything from fashion to musical instruments. To me, a book that makes you want to know more is a good thing.

Although the stories were nice in their gory ways, some of them didn't feel too Medievally,, almost like they could have been set anytime, anywhere, but hey, this is a Dark Age anthology so let's throw in men in tights.

Speaking of tights, that's what Errol Flynn wore in The Techicolor Adventures of Robin Hood. What the guys wore way back yonder were hosen, two separate pieces tied to baggie underpants called braies. So yeah, their underwear did show between the pair of hose, but what the hey. They had good ventilation. Later, the codpiece was invented because too often the men's privates were public. Anyway, a story or two had men wearing tights, but they wouldn't have been tights as we know them. 

And, the only musical instruments mentioned were trumpets. No! The Dark Ages had such good instruments even if they made you want to cover your ears and scream. The sackbut, the bombard, the racket. Yes, we got the word racket (as in "stop making that racket) from this loud instrument.. The stories would feel more Medievally if things peculiar to that time were mentioned.

A few stories were set in other continents besides Europe. Asia and the Anasazi in southwest North America were featured. Of course, the so-called Dark Ages weren't dark for China and the Americas. China was flourishing and the Anasazi were remarkably healthy compared to their European counterparts. 

Enough of my being too picky. I had some favorites that did feel 900 years old.. My favorite was The Final Book of St. Foy's Miracles by ME Bronstein.  The patron saint of thieves! What's not to like?  Another standout was Schizzare by Bridget D. Brave. Purple mushrooms!  I also enjoyed The Fourth Scene by Brian Evenson. Very imaginative.

Shout out to the fantastic artwork and amusing cover, all done by varying artists, but all very cool.

If you're a medievalist you might be disappointed at the numbers of real horrors of the Dark Ages that were left out., but they are still interesting and scary stories. Thanks to Netgalley and the Howl Society for allowing me to read and review a copy of Howls from the Dark Ages.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Monsters Unleashed! Trapped, right now, inside of a book. Open at your own discretion! These things could get out!

A book with a little something for everyone. Kim Newman wrote a great introduction to classic monsters. Several stories where the classic monster was recast as female, such as the one where a body made from parts of others had the brain of a lovesick woman. I'm a sucker for funny horror so a story about an ancient great aunty living (sort of living, that is) in a family's basement was a hoot. It sounds like something that would happen to me if mummies scooted around cellars and ate legs of lamb. (My dad is in the cabinet above the washing machine, but that's another story.) And there were hybrid animal/people thingies that ate fascists. That's always a nice touch. If we could only end all wars with hybrid animal/people thingies. 

Every once in a while, there was a story that made me think, "And then what happens?" In one, I figured Mrs. Dracula would wake up the next day, wonder where all these skinny kids came from, and wander away again. She seems to have wandered away on more than one occasion. So, what happens when she forgets her kids again? I'd like to see her steal Mr. Dracula's credit card, go online, and buy a nice gown from Vampire's Wife.

Anyway, some fun stuff that you'll remember from your grandparent's childhoods. Watch the old movies, then let these modern versions scare you a second time. I have to go now because my dad needs something to eat, but thanks to Netgalley and Monstrous Books for allowing me to read and critique "Classic Monsters Unleashed."

For the love of God, don't let these classic monsters out!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Call for Horror Submission: Shakespear Unleashed. They'll Take Horror Sonnets, Too!

 Title - Author Name. Include a short bio in your email.

Shakespeare Unleashed Submission Guidelines

“O horror! Horror! Horror! Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee!”

Announcing our next anthology... SHAKESPEARE UNLEASHED.

Edited by James Aquilone. Publishing in 2023.

We have an amazing lineup of authors and poets lined up for the anthology — which will feature horror stories based on Shakespeare's plays and characters. We'll also have horror sonnets!

Like Classic Monsters Unleashed, we'll take submissions after our Kickstarter next year. The anthology will be about 75% from invited authors and 25% from the slush (though we ended up with 33% from uninvited authors for Classic Monsters Unleashed). We're still trying to nail down the launch date for the Shakespeare Unleashed Kickstarter, so we don't have an exact date when we'll open for subs, but we thought we'd reveal the guidelines so you can get a jumpstart on your story.


  • Payment: 6 cents a word

  • Length: 1500 to 6000 words

  • Submission Period: July or August 2022

  • Expected Publish Date: April 2023

  • Kickstarter Launch: Spring 2022

No reprints, multiple subs or simultaneous subs

We're looking for dark and scary stories — no parodies or humor pieces. Stories can be set in time periods other than the Elizabethan era, and can be updated or reimagined or merely "based on."


  • Payment: $25 flat fee

  • Length: 14-line Shakespearean sonnet

  • Submission Period: July or August 2022 (tentative)

  • No reprints, multiple subs or simultaneous subs

We're looking for horror sonnets — no parodies or humor pieces. Sonnets can be based on one of Shakespeare's sonnets or plays or characters (let us know which one when you submit) or they can be totally original, but they should still evoke Shakespeare in some way.


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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Goblin Market. Not Rosetti's Goblin Market. This Goblin Market.

 This is a book that manages to be both charming and creepy. Just scary enough to interest a middle-schooler but not enough to keep anybody awake at night. Most importantly, it shows how the power of a loving family can help kids keep from making terrible mistakes.

It is loosely based on Christina Rosetti's poem, Goblin Market, but different enough that reading it will be a new experience even if you're read Rosetti's work.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review an e-ARC of Goblin Market.

Pretty cover.

Saturday, April 16, 2022